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After Outcry, Concertgebouw Will Allow Jerusalem Quartet to Perform


The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, one of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, said Thursday that it would allow the Jerusalem Quartet to perform, two days after it had canceled the ensemble’s concerts amid security concerns related to threatened protests.

The Concertgebouw said in a statement that the Jerusalem Quartet would be allowed to perform on Saturday after all, with expanded security measures and a more robust police presence. The ensemble had originally been scheduled to perform on Thursday and Saturday, but the Concertgebouw canceled the engagement, saying it could not ensure the safety of audience members, musicians and employees because of the threat of protests related to the Israel-Gaza war. The cancellation prompted an outcry from musicians.

Simon Reinink, general manager of the Concertgebouw, said in an interview that the hall had reversed course after securing commitments from the police.

“Now we have enough confidence to go ahead with it,” he said. “It has everything to do with security. We were forced to crack the dilemma of security on the one hand and freedom on the other.”

Reinink defended the hall’s handling of the situation, saying that the cancellation “had nothing to do with antisemitism.”

“We fight and we fought we like hell to keep these concerts,” he added.

The Jerusalem Quartet said in a statement that it had been “moved to tears by the outpouring of support worldwide from musicians of all profiles, from internationally famous names to anonymous amateurs.”

“Every single voice has uplifted us,” it said. “It is overwhelming to experience this extraordinary community help remind the world of humanitarian values and artistic expression which underlie everything we do and believe in.”

The controversy was the latest example of the Israel-Hamas war’s impact on the performing arts. Since the start of the war, cultural institutions have faced heavy scrutiny over artists, programming and funding.

The Concertgebouw’s decision to cancel the concerts drew criticism from leading artists. A group of prominent musicians, including the conductor Simon Rattle, the pianist Martha Argerich and the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter published a statement on Thursday condemning the hall, saying it was capitulating to protesters.

“It is not the Jerusalem String Quartet’s performances that put our freedom in danger, but those who threaten public order unless their demands are met,” the musicians wrote. “Surrendering to those threats is not only an act of weakness, but a clear signal that we are not willing or prepared to defend our democratic values and our way of life.”

Reinink said that the decision to call off the concerts was made in part because of recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations at the University of Amsterdam that had turned violent.

“That was, for us, the game changer,” he said. “The risk was simply too high. As long as the police could not guarantee that they could handle this situation, we made the decision it was not a good idea to go ahead.”



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